NYFW Day 3: Tommy Hilfiger Puts Fun Back in Fashion; Jason Wu Lets Loose
THR's senior fashion editor Booth Moore reports on the glitzy coming and goings on day 3 of New York Fashion Week.
I actually felt a pang of patriotism Friday night watching Tommy Hilfiger’s fashion carnival in all its stars-and-stripes glory on Pier 16 at South Street Seaport.
Hilfiger put the fun back in fashion, and the self-made billionaire democratized it, too, making it Insta shoppable for everyone watching at home. The Ferris wheel and popsicle carts; reality TV royalty Gigi Hadid leading the charge down the runway; and apple pie pop princess Taylor Swift singing along from the front row, it was a blast.
Americans have always entertained the world, and this season at New York Fashion Week, we’re doing it again, trying to bring fashion into the Internet age by closing the time gap between runway and retail, and turn around the industry's fortunes.
HILFIGER PUTS THE FUN BACK IN FASHION
Hilfiger’s collection, designed in collaboration with Hadid, was the latest "see now, buy now," experiment, meaning that the clothing shown on the runway — gold braid-trimmed overalls, flag logo hoodies, Hilfiger-branded underwear briefs sticking out from low-slung pants, and other '90s throwbacks — are actually available to buy at this moment, instead of 5 months from now, which has until now been the industry norm.
“It’s the future of fashion, at least for us,” said Hilfiger’s chief brand officer Avery Baker in the afterglow of the show.
Hilfiger is no stranger to over-the-top runway shows (last season, he built a cruise ship inside the Park Avenue Armory). But this was next level. He must have spent a fortune on the event and carnival set-up, which is up for two days (On Saturday, the pier is open to the public for free from noon to 9 p.m.)
Besides Tommy-themed rides and games, there is a tattoo parlor, a nail art station and an Insta photo booth. Several merch shops sell pieces from the collection, fresh off the runway, though not the fringed bandanas, which accessorized every look, and topped my list of most covetable items. (Those don’t appear to be on the website, either.) There is also a space selling vintage Hilfiger togs, a nice way to tie the brand back to its 80s and 90s heritage, both decades that are fashionable with young people now.
For several years now, Chanel and Louis Vuitton have been hosting similarly elaborate runway experiences around the world, but done European luxury-style, flying celebs and top clients to exotic locales such as Havana and Palm Springs (ha!). Those exclusive events weren't ‘see now, buy now’ and consumer-facing like Hilfiger’s, which was staged in front of 1000 invited industry guests, and 1000 members of the public.
It took an American like Hilfiger to figure out a way to make the runway into an event that can also be experienced and consumed on a more mass level.
My only question is what next, Tommy? “The helicopter shot over the pier is a hard thing to top,” Baker said, calling out one of the more choice camera angles in the event’s livestreaming coverage online at Tommy.com. But it’s more than just watching, she said. “It’s experiencing and interacting, that’s the other thing.”
When I suggested the Tommy carnival could actually be a permanent attraction on the pier, she said, “I know, we should talk to the City of New York and think about charging them for it.”
JASON WU COLORS OUTSIDE THE LINES
If the Hilfiger show was the fun fair of day 3 of New York Fashion Week, Jason Wu’s show was the intimate night at home with friends.
The designer showed a breakout collection for spring 2017, staged in a series of intimate rooms and nooks filled with midcentury furnishings meant to evoke a well-decorated home.
No see now, buy now for him, at least not right away. “It was about seeing the clothes we labored over,” Wu said backstage. “Luxury for me isn’t about razzle dazzle.”
Which is not to say there wasn’t razzle dazzle in the clothes themselves, which were a lot more carefree than in some of Wu’s other collections. Like a modern artist, he used neon piping to “sketch” on scarfy, asymmetrical dresses; 3D floral embroidery to daub color like paint on a dramatic gown, and delicate pleating on neon yellow silk chiffon to sculpt the body.
Stylists should be looking at this collection, stat. I wonder which leading lady will wear it first?
I took a moment to ask Wu about his most clutch leading lady of the last 8 years, First Lady Michelle Obama. You’ll remember he designed her stunning white gown for the first inaugural. He was still a young, up-and-coming designer at the time, and that moment made him.
“She’s touched me and my life in so many ways,” the designer said, adding that he had recently attended President Obama’s star-studded White House birthday party. “I look forward to continuing to have a relationship with her going forward.”
ALL EYES ON MONSE
If there’s one American fashion label that’s really on the move this season, it’s Monse, designed by Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia, who were recently named the new creative directors of Oscar de la Renta.
All the top editors and retailers were at the show looking for a clue about how this ascendant duo will change one of the most iconic American fashion houses.
With a nose ring, that’s how! The first model said it with her face jewelry, pissed off gaze and masculine-meets-feminine look -- a belted, pinstriped jacket, wide legged pants and a deconstructed white men's button down shirt, sliding off the shoulder exposing a bare breast. This was tough chic.
The designers, who've already gotten a lot of celebrity love from Blake Lively, Amal Clooney and Sarah Jessica Parker, showed asymmetrical, sliced and diced shirting; sparkly evening pieces (tops, tunics and a couple of show-stopping gowns) that appeared to be dripping with sequin embroidery, sprinkling in a few sporty, red-white-and-blue rep stripe pieces to drive home their willingness to play with the preppy canon.
It was a solid collection, though maybe trying to do too much, like they thought they had something to prove. But the edgy glamour at the core of the designers’ vision is promising; it will be interesting to see how it melts into and morphs the old school luxe of Oscar de la Renta.